How Star Trek Influenced 'Doctor Who' Season 11

Doctor Who is about to return for its eleventh season, which has been billed as a clean slate for newcomers. The show will have a new showrunner, new lead, and new supporting cast. For most, being on Doctor Who is temptation and reward enough, but for one new star, it took comparisons to Star Trek to get him into the TARDIS.

Bradley Walsh tells RadioTimes that he was at first reluctant to take the role of the Doctor’s companion Graham O’Brien. But then the show’s executives appeal to his inner Star Trek fan.

“I remember what the phrase was which helped sell it a while after I found out it was Doctor Who,” he says. “They said: ‘It’s an ensemble piece, Brad. You’re not going to be the Doctor.’ I went, ‘well that’s good because I don’t understand any gobbledegook’. I said, ‘Who is going to be the Doctor then?’ And they went ‘We don’t know yet, we haven’t chosen them.’ I went, ‘Oh, OK, fine. OK, cool.’

“A week later – who’s the Doctor? ‘Dunno, we haven’t chosen them yet.’ And that went on and on and on. And I said ‘How can I gauge what I’m going to do with the part?’ And they said ‘You’re gonna be like an older companion. And it’s gonna be a bit like the bridge on the Enterprise. It’s gonna be an ensemble piece. It’s gonna be like…’ And I went ‘I’m in!’ as soon as they said that because I’m a massive Trekkie. I went ‘I’m in, I’m in, that’s it, OK done it’.”

This promise to Walsh reveals something interesting about how new showrunner Chris Chibnall sees the series. Rather than having the cornerstone of the series be the relationship between the Doctor and a single companion, he’s looking at the Doctor as something akin to the captain of a starship. This goes a long way towards explaining why the TARDIS is more crowded this season, with three companions instead of the usual one.

Walsh goes on to say that it all came together when Jodie Whittaker was finally announced as the new Doctor.

“I found out [about Jodie] with the rest of the world,” he says. “I got a phone call in the morning – ‘make sure you’re watching the tennis’. I sat watching the tennis. And I’d watched Broadchurch, with Jodie in it, and I think Jodie’s brilliant. And I went ‘Oh my god it’s a girl! It’s female! Fantastic, I love it!’

“And now, the lightbulb… it went ‘Now I get it!’ They were going ‘Oh we’re gonna change it, it’s gonna be this, it’s gonna be different… it’s gonna be seen as groundbreaking. I went ‘I get it, I totally get it.'”

Be sure to check out the trailer for Doctor Who Season 11 here.

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What do you think about how Star Trek has influenced the new season of Doctor Who? Let us know in the comments!

Doctor Who premieres Oct. 7th on BBC One and BBC America.